In the life of most consumers, we all come to want to trade out an asset that we believe is of value to acquire something new. Sometimes we are pleasantly, often we are disappointed. But a trade of goods or services mostly depends on finding the right business or individual that wants to trade.
In the life of an independent jeweler the variety of trade opportunities is extensive and sometimes intriguing. One such occasion was a surprising proposition. A youngish man came to our store one Saturday shopping for a diamond engagement ring for his girl, hoping to prove to her his intentions while he built his own young business that he believed would give them the financial security to start their married life. He was friendly and cautious about choosing just the right one. Once he’d settled on a 1 carat diamond in a classic ring with small diamonds running down both sides of the center diamond he looked me straight in the eye and asked if I was open to a trade. I said I was always willing to consider a customer’s asset for trade and further explained that a trade “must be good for my business as well as acceptable to you.”
I waited for him to dip into his pocket for an engagement ring that was the result of a failed engagement or marriage, the typical scenario, that I encounter each and every week. But instead he asked me to exit the store with him saying “Come outside. There’s something I want to show you.” I paused for a second but he seemed like an honest young guy and he was very friendly and respectful.
In the parking lot he walked me up to his 1959 Studebaker Lark 4 door Sedan. The car was in good condition, light aqua-blue in color with a white and light blue interior. It was a beautiful, rare car that I learned was only produced for four years. He said it was mechanically sound, roomy with a V-8 engine. A southern car never exposed to harsh winters and inherited from his grandfather. “How about I trade you the car for the ring,” he said. I’m pretty cool in trade negotiations, but this proposition surprised me. I looked him straight back in the eye and bought time to think saying, “Let’s look under the hood.” I knew absolutely nothing about the engine compartment of any automobile much less a classic 1959 Studebaker. I did remember something though that made me think that Studebaker’s were not successful cars, much like Edsel’s. And the doubts about this trade deal began to mount in my mind. I’d receive no cash for my $4,000 ring; he wanted and needed an even trade. My family already had 2 cars and a pick-up. My wife and kids would think I’d lost my mind.
In the end it was bad business to accept this trade. But for a minute or two I loved the idea of owning a rare, classic car. I loved the idea of this unusual trade. I wanted to help out this young man and create a story worth re-telling to his future family and mine.
I obviously remember this possibility well and this occurred over 10 years ago. I have made many trade since the Studebaker came and went. All the trades were good for both parties. But I still think about myself driving that car in town and telling the story of how I traded a diamond engagement ring for it. Even though it never happened. And I don’t know what happened to the young man. I don’t know if he ever proved himself to his girl and married her.